NOTE: This article was first published at on August 20th.

( – Sen. John McCain flew by helicopter to the Chevron Genesis oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday to reiterate his call for the United States to begin selling new offshore oil drilling leases.

Such leases have been significantly restricted by a moratorium that has been included in the annual Interior Department appropriation bill every year since 1982.  The moratorium will expire on September 30 when the current Interior appropriation expires unless an extension is approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.

“Americans across our country are hurting because of the cost of energy,” McCain said. “Gas prices are through the roof. Energy costs have seeped into our grocery bills, making it more expensive to feed our families. And now, as people prepare for the winter, they are going to be hit with higher costs for home heating oil. It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs like this.”

In 2006, the Minerals Management Service, the division of the Interior Department that overseas federal offshore oil-drilling leases estimated that there are 85.9 billion barrels of “technically recoverable undiscovered” oil on the Outer Continental Shelf in U.S. territory.  Venezuela, by comparison, has 80 billion barrels in proven oil reserves.

“Senator Obama opposes new drilling,” McCain said. “He has said it will not ‘solve our problem’ and that ‘it’s not real.’  He’s wrong, and the American people know it. This platform we are at today sits above a field of 160 million barrels of oil, and is capable of producing on a daily basis 55,000 barrels of oil and 72 million cubic feet of natural gas.”

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, an Obama supporter, was quoted by the Associated Press comparing McCain’s position to the “Beverly Hillbillies” TV show where character Jed Clampett shoots a hole in the ground that turns into an oil gusher.  Vilsack said McCain has “a Jed Clampett energy policy.”

All original material, copyright 1998-2008 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at


1. a) Where was Republican presidential candidate John McCain yesterday?
b) What did Sen. McCain call on the U.S. government to do?

2. a) A moratorium is defined as: a stopping of an activity for an agreed amount of time. How long has the U.S. moratorium on new offshore drilling been in effect?
b) When will the moratorium expire?
c) What needs to happen for the moratorium to be extended?

3. a) What is the Minerals Management Service?
b) How many barrels of oil has the MMS estimated there to be on the Outer Continental Shelf in U.S. territory?

4. a) What has Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said about new offshore drilling?
b) What did Obama supporter Gov. Tom Vilsack say about McCain’s position?

5. Polls show that the majority of Americans support new offshore drilling. One CNN poll showed that 70% of Americans support new drilling, though only 51% believe it will reduce the price of gas at the pump in the coming year.
Do you think Congress should let the moratorium expire and allow new drilling? Explain your answer. Ask a parent the same question.

6.  OPTIONAL: Visit for your Representative’s contact information. Call or email the office with your opinion on allowing new offshore drilling.
Note: House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi went into summer recess without allowing a vote on this issue. Republican House members have continued to meet in Congress to urge Rep. Pelosi to allow a vote on this issue.  Consider contacting Speaker Pelosi’s office also with your opinion on this issue.

NOTE: It’s still a matter of debate how long it would take for oil from new ocean wells to move into the supply pipeline. But exploring these coastal areas could have an immediate impact at the pump. Just the possibility that domestic oil supplies are expanding likely would deter speculators, sending prices down. There was a real-life example of that effect recently when a mere Energy Department announcement of higher-than-expected fuel supplies sent crude oil prices tumbling temporarily. (Oil prices are set by the international market, and a modest rise in U.S. production would have minimal impact on world prices, according to a report. The oil industry, however, says aggressive drilling by the United States would send a message to the market, curbing speculation-driven price increases.)


For maps and details about the Chevron Genesis oil drilling platform, go to

Visit the Minerals Management Service website at

Read about offshore drilling off the coast of Florida at click here.

Read editorials about offshore drilling here and here.

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